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While social media managers haven’t made the highly-deserved list of front-line responders to get free Starbucks coffee in December, they are certainly among the many professionals who have had some long, stressful hours.

While those supposed to run their employers’ Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, as well as a host of other platforms, are unlikely to save lives, they make a huge impact on the health of their organizations and consume a lot of caffeine late.

“Social media managers have had a lot of coffee since March,” said Nancy Dibert, program director and online social media marketing program instructor for the University of Delaware’s Department of Professional and Continuous Studies (UD PCS) and CEO of EPIC Marketing Consultants . “Every word typed and every video posted is dissected. The level of self-inflicted wound crisis management that organizations have performed on social media has been staggering. “

Whether it was the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the economy or the presidential election, social media was the driving force behind the information exchange, according to Dibert.

“As social media marketers and managers, we always had to be on the cutting edge, not daily, not even by the hour, but by the minute,” said Dibert. “The most important advice I can give is to always be aware of your audience and their values. If you can’t say anything supportive, it is probably best not to say anything at all.”

Hopefully Starbucks will keep its own social media managers busy as they’ve gotten into the fray. Shortly after Starbucks expressed its support for the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, it was inundated with a response on social media on June 11 in response to reports banning its employees from wearing BLM clothing was. The next day, Starbucks used its social media channels to announce its changed stance. Although many of the 25,000+ comments on its Facebook page after reversing were negative, Starbucks has acknowledged the concerns and continued the discussion by being non-confrontational to numerous posts and by emphasizing its commitment to listening, learning and making a better company be.

Praised over the years for engaging audiences in online conversations on social and environmental issues, as well as photo and video content, only time will tell whether Starbucks responded quickly enough and appropriately. According to data released by DealAid on July 23, 45% of consumers surveyed said they were less likely to shop at Starbucks because their employees were originally banned from wearing Black Lives Matter clothing. 14.7% will actively try to avoid shopping at Starbucks. and 41.2% said it won’t affect their decision. With its share price rising in the six months following the backlash, highlighted by an all-time high in mid-December, Starbucks appears to be weathering the storm well.

Even before the events of 2020, the need for skilled social media professionals was steadily increasing, and the number of people using the title of social media manager on LinkedIn has doubled in the past seven years. With an estimated 91% of US businesses on social media – across all industries – job opportunities abound. Over the past decade, job postings for practitioners looking to take on these roles have increased by more than 1,000%.

Dibert said the UD PCS program is a great way to get started in the field. Whether students are just learning social media marketing skills or looking to improve their knowledge from elementary to intermediate, there is a course that will suit their needs.

The basics of the Social Media Marketing Certificate, starting March 8th, focus on using a variety of social media platforms to build and expand awareness, increase visibility, chat with potential clients and customers, Cultivate brand ambassadors, gain market share and support organizational goals. The Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business Certificate, starting Feb. 8, delves deeper into researching, planning, developing, integrating, and executing comprehensive social media marketing strategies, integrated campaigns, targeted content, and paid placement, and then measuring the Success.

Despite what has happened in the world, Dibert sees no need to make significant changes to the curriculum as the program already offers relevant lessons on current social media for business topics such as decision trees, crisis communication and listening and when to get dark and the participants on countless Prepared situations.

“I’ve heard from a lot of alumni over the past few months, and the result was clear:” I never thought I’d have to use this and I’m so glad I learned it and have these tools, “said Dibert .

Caffé Gelato employee Kiran Wiker couldn’t wait to become a former student to start using the coursework as she worked on Advanced Social Media for Marketing for during the Spring Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine period Business Certificate was enrolled.

“Every lesson, every lecture and every reading material was crucial in getting us through the quarantine as I had to apply it at that second,” said Wiker. “I couldn’t learn fast enough and was amazed at how much material I was able to put into practice.”

Students interested in UD’s Social Media Marketing program can use the online self-assessment questionnaire to find out which course is right for them.

Discounts and payment plans are available for both courses. Further information is available from pcs.udel.edu/socialmedia, by e-mail to continue-ed@udel.edu or by phone at 302-831-7600.